I chose to reflect upon John Updike's piece titled Dog's Death. This poem conjures up the image of a beloved pet that is passing away and the loss that one might feel during this sad time. Although the general tone of this poem is very somber and melancholy, most will be able to relate to feeling this way during the loss of a beloved pet or loved one. That is what drew me into this piece. Throughout my life I have experienced the loss of many pets, seldom does a pet out live the owner. But the loss of my first cat was very tragic to me. Perhaps it was because I had to beg my parents for her for so many years or maybe because she would sit on my text books while I did my homework, but this poem brought back those feelings of love and attachment to a good pet. As our text stated, the tone of this poem was “designed to fire up feelings”. (Clugston, 2010)
The formalist approach of literary criticism is the type where the critic looks at the structure, imagery, tone, and other tools. This is done to see how these things work together to give the reader the full experience of the piece. The formalist approach is the most widely used of literary criticisms.
In using the formalist approach when reviewing John Updike's poem, Dog's Death, you can see that the grammar and tone the author uses makes you feel emotionally attached to the pain the pet and family are going through.
“.. to bite my hand and died. I stroked her warm fur
and my wife called in a voice imperious with tears.
Though surrounded by love that would have upheld her,
Nevertheless she sank and, stiffening, disappeared.” (Updike, 1953, Lines 13-16).
John Updike also chooses to use rhyming at the ends of most lines. This method can be used to increase the drama and feeling associated with the dog's passing. The author has a way of carefully choosing ambiguous words...